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by Humboldt resident
Thursday, Aug. 26, 2004 at 5:16 PM
Apparently there are no records of the missing radioactive waste since 1968. This is an extremely unprofessional way to run a nuclear plant.
USA: August 19, 2004
SAN FRANCISCO - Utility Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said yesterday it had not yet found the missing pieces of a used nuclear fuel rod at its Humboldt Bay Power Plant near the city of Eureka in northern California.
The utility, a unit of PG&E Corp., said it updated the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on its investigation regarding the missing fuel, first reported to the NRC on June 29, and was continuing its investigation.
Workers have completed a search of easily accessible areas in the plant's storage pool for radioactive fuel without success and a review of records plus interviews with former workers have not turned up the location, the company said.
The used fuel consisted of three, half-inch diameter by 18-inch long segments, weighing a total of about 4 pounds, which were cut from a single, 7-foot fuel rod in 1968.
The Humboldt Bay Plant is now closed after the reactor operated from 1963 to 1976. It was the seventh licensed commercial reactor in the U.S. and produced 65 megawatts, or enough power for about 65,000 homes.
PG&E said it "continues to believe" the missing fuel is either safely stored in the pool or was shipped from the plant to a facility licensed to take radioactive material.
"There is no evidence that the used fuel segments were shipped to a radioactive waste disposal site; however, in an effort to exhaust all scenarios, plant staff are investigating this as a remote possibility," the utility said.
"It is unlikely that the fuel is some place where it's not supposed to be," said David Lochbaum, nuclear safety engineer for the Union of Concerned Scientists, an environmental advocacy group.
Lochbaum said that pieces of fuel rods have been lost at other power stations and accounting measures for the material were designed for "bundles" of fuel, not for individual rods.
"It's likely they are still in the pool or were shipped off site to a licensed waste dump," he said.
PG&E also said there was no evidence that the fuel was stolen.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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